Harnessing innovation to keep up to date with the changing landscape

Harnessing innovation to keep up to date with the changing landscape

City Scape Businessman Leader Thinking Concept

Robert Kerner, Head of Innovation, Personal & Business Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland works in strategy driving rapid innovation pilots with third parties to gain improved customer experience. With RBS’ ambition to be #1 in Customer Service, Advocacy and Trust by 2020, his small team looks across Personal and Business Banking to ensure that the strategy and actions are aligned to deliver this goal.

Robert will be presenting at the FinTech Europe Conference 2017 on his insight regarding harnessing innovation to keep up to date with the changing landscape and consumer engagement techniques. See below Robert’s thoughts on Innovation…


Using sentiment analysis to speed up innovation

One of the critical steps to good innovation is the early steps around design thinking. Mapping the challenge and deeply understanding the core problem you are solving is critical to finding the right solution. Without this first step right, many a projects have gone on to create solutions that are in need of a problems to solve and fizzle out fast. I am certainly a fan of getting this step right but how could we speed this up using better tools?

There are new wave of very accessible, very powerful sentiment analysis tools on the market. These are normally focused squarely at the customer experience teams to understand customer sentiment from various surveys, complaints data and live feedback. These tools can mine through comments and disaggregate customer’s actual comments. For example, the comment “the food was great but service was terrible”, the system realises that this is not really a happy customer, but in fact 2 separate comments that need to be treated completely differently. They also use handy data visualisation tools (like word clouds) to articulate the key learnings quickly.

For those of us in innovation, numerical scores (like NPS) only provide a signpost to customers feelings, but the sentiment analysis can prove to be invaluable source of insight. Having this kind of tool at your fingertips, you can now sift through massive datasets and look for trends, outliers and drill into these for better understanding. What is also great is these tools can sift through all kind of unstructured data: Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor, employee surveys and internal ideas portals to start to give a very joined up picture. What we are really looking for is where both employees AND customers see issues or solutions. We can then focus our design thinking efforts to get under the skin in these posts and start to refine/fix the customer jour.

Innovation, Think like Thomas Jefferson

Making an entire organisation more innovative takes real time and is hard work. Cultures move at a glacial pace and this requires the organisations to invest in costly change agents or consulting firms to bring in fresh skills. I am certainly not arguing that this is bad thing and definitely is a strategic play to ensure long term survival but in the short term is not going to make much of a difference. Customers may also react poorly to a company that they have known for years now is suddenly “reborn” or acting against its established brand ethos!

What can these companies do to start competing and try to keep up. I would suggest that they should adopt a strategy of find, test, use, learn and build at pace. This tactic gives them short term customer experience, revenue and cost wins while also helping build the innovative organisation they seek long term. Just focusing on building an innovation culture might leave them with a lot of used post-it notes, coffee cups and squashed ping pong balls but not much to show customers or shareholders.

Firms need to focus on finding new technology in the most efficient way. Once they find something that looks interesting, the clock starts! Work to test these ideas, speed up the organisation to decide if this ” piece of kit” could be useful. Get this into customer’s hands and see what they think. If it looks good, start to use this and learn from these niche software experts. At the same time, decide whether you want to partner, buy or build your own version.

“The last mile of innovation”, crystallize those innovation benefits!

I have to start with a disclaimer, I did not think of this phrase. I heard “The last mile of innovation”, from Janice Diner, Founding Partner CEO at Horizn. When meeting with Janice, it struck me that many innovation teams stop when things are delivered but not necessarily embedded. The big difference is that without embedding the innovation you quite often do not realize all those tasty benefits that are in your business cases. The issue arise when innovation teams assume that there is some magic team in the organisation who’s job it is to catch your new idea, product or company and make sure everyone buys into it. Innovation teams should create full delivery plans to include the embedding process before opening the champagne.

Some things to consider:

1) There normally are no magic teams that catch your ideas.

2) Ensure benefits and call to action communications are part of the delivery plan.

3) Look at new tools to improve the way you convey the messages, emails and webinars don’t cut it!

4) Don’t underestimate how hard this part of the project is to deliver.